The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire

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Overview

Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire are considered by many critics and literary historians to be the foremost Caribbean poets of the 20th century, yet they are rarely treated together. This work deals with the two writers within a comparative framework, exploring their poetry as the exemplification of Negritude art and writing from the Caribbean. Josaphat Kubayanda uses non-canonical theories of literary and cultural analysis to discuss the relationships between creative writing, the idea of Africa, and the rediscovery of African values in the Caribbean, and to propose and demonstrate an original Caribbean poetics, anchored in Africa's cultural systems and linked to Afro-American protest thought.

Each of the book's chapters focuses on an aspect of the literary development of the African heritage and of the black condition illustrated by Guillen and Cesaire. Chapter 1 offers an introduction to the genesis of Caribbean rhetorical interest in Africa, from the 1920s onward, and places Guillen and Cesaire in the context of Negritude. Chapter 2 addresses the European othering of Africa, and the Negritude critique of this within the non-African traditions. Guillen's and Cesaire's response to the European concept of the universal is discussed in chapter 3, while chapter 4 demonstrates the ways in which blackness is caught between racial otherness and trying to integrate into the Caribbean social order. The final two chapters provide an analysis of the polyrhythmic unity of the African cultural system that allows Guillen and Cesaire to make technical innovations, and a conclusion acknowledges the writers' place in Caribbean creative writing. The volume also contains an updated bibliography on Caribbean literature and the African element. This work will be a valuable reference source for courses in Caribbean and African literary studies, Latin American literature, and Afro-American and African culture, and an important addition to both public and academic libraries.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

JOSAPHAT B. KUBAYANDA is Associate Professor and Chair of Spanish at Ohio State University where he specializes in Latin American and Caribbean literature and African diaspora literatures.

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Table of Contents

Preface

The Emergence of Caribbean Rhetorical Discourse on Africa

Inventing the Primitive African

Calling into Question the "Universals" of History

The "Double Proletarian": Race and the Caribbean Social Space

Language as (De)Sign of Cultural Roots and Centralized Power

Artistic Cross-Fertilization or Polyrhythmic Structures

Conclusion: Keeping Alive the Discourse on Africa

Selected Bibliography

Index

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